Teeth move! This is often misunderstood by patients who believe that once their teeth are straight, they will stay there magically forever. We use our teeth every day and they are subjected to all kinds of forces and uses that can cause them to shift or change over time. This is normal and a part of life.
To counteract those effects and maintain ideal alignment of teeth, especially where the alignment problems for the patient were severe to begin with, retainers are not only recommended, they are necessary in order to prevent the need for re-treatment later on.
We tell patients that "retention is for life" and even when patients have been compliant we can occasionally see change with continued growth, habits such as nail biting, bite forces that are heavy or weak, erupting wisdom teeth or stubborn spacing or crowding issues.
This is the reason for following up with our patients for two years after they receive their retainers. We want to coach you through the initial stages of your retention protocol, but we are here for you in the future as well, should the need arise to see us.
Following directions during all phases of your orthodontic treatment is important and retention is no different. You should always wear your retainer as instructed whether that be full time or during the night only. You should not eat with your retainer in place. We provide a case for you to save it in when it is not in your mouth. Pocket injuries are common and retainers can find their way quickly into the garbage when wrapped in a napkin.
Using bleach or hot water will not help to disinfect your retainer; in fact, these things will likely destroy it. Brushing your retainer with toothpaste and cool water will help to remove plaque and eliminate odors. There are some retainer cleaners on the market that can also assist you with freshening up your retainer if required.
We get about three calls per month to report that the dog ate the patient's retainer. Retainers are breakable and expensive to replace, but with proper maintenance and care should last for years. They will not last forever, though, and replacing your retainer when there is a problem will help to ensure maintenance of your beautiful orthodontic result. It is a wise investment rather than opting for re-treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns about your retainer, or your retainer needs adjusting, call us. Please do not try to adjust it yourself. It is difficult for the doctor to evaluate your retainer fit or adjust things if the retainer is at home; always bring your retainer to your appointments!
- Wear your retainer full time, until the doctor instructs otherwise.
- Take your retainer out when eating, and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunchrooms or restaurants.)
- Clean your retainer thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates odors. Efferdent® or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used but do not take the place of brushing.
- When a retainer is not in your mouth, it should ALWAYS be in a retainer case. Pets love to chew on them!
- Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to it faster.
- Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If retainers are lost or broken, call us immediately.
- If you have any questions or concerns about your retainer, or if your retainer needs adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust it yourself.
- Always bring your retainer to your appointments.
- Retainer replacements are expensive, but with proper care they will last for years!
- Remove your retainer when swimming.
- Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.